Former Minister of Finance under the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iwuala revealed for the first time how oil subsidy theft of $2.5 billion was stolen.
Okonjo-Iwuala narrated how her mother was kidnapped by the cartel behind the oil subsidy fraud for five days in 2012 just because she was fighting for the interest of Nigeria. At a point she was highly emotional close to shedding tears.
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Okonjo-Iwuala in highly emotion laden speech delivered abroad said,
“…The second example has to do with a specific one in my country, the cleanup of the subsidy regime in 2012 during my second stint as Finance Minister. Nigeria has a physically challenged fuel subsidy regime, the exporting of crude oil and importing most of its refining because most of its refinery are in bad shape.
“At the end of 2011, N1.73 trillion equivalent to the United States $11 billion was submitted as claims for subsidies by 143 Oil Marketers who were importing the products. These numbers seemed horrendously large compared to what I had last seen when I was in government in 2006 which was closer to $2 billion in oil subsidy.”
“So we decided to audit these claims. We audited about $8.4 billion worth of claims and we found $2.5 billion fraud worth of claims, for example, many of these marketers were trying to defraud $2.5 billion fraudulently.
With the full backing of the President and the Economic Team we decided not to entertain these claims or to pay. The pressures from these marketers was tremendous, as we try not to only pay, we decided to clean up the mechanism for the subsidy claims and put in place more transparent, something more clearer. This did not go down with them.
When we stuck to our implementation of nonpayment of the verification regime, these crungs and well connected interests were angered and seem to blame me personally for this.
There were personal consequences, my 83-year-old mother, Professor of Sociology was kidnapped by four young men and held for five days….She asked them why she had been kidnapped and they told her, ” Your daughter who is the Finance Minister refused to pay Oil Marketers their dues.”
The kidnappers negotiating with my brother demanded my resignation publicly that I should go on television publicly and announce my resignation and depart from the country as a condition for my mother’s release.
Needless to say, these were some of the worst days of my life. Imagine! When you were in a position you want your parents and some of you who were here with your relatives to be proud of you. You want to be a source of good to your family.
You can imagine how I felt sitting and thinking just because I was trying to do something right to implement a better policy that was good for the country this could lead to the taking of my mother’s life. These were some of the worst days of my life.
With my father’s support and firm resolve of the President we all decided I should not give in to the blackmailers and I refused to resign.(Applause!).
Following a manhunt, I am Sorry, I still feel emotional when I talk about it. And this story is not publicly known, this is probably the first time I am giving a full details.
Following a man hunt for my mother by police and security agencies, she was able to make a dramatic escape after five days in captivity where she had only been given water and half of a sausage roll.
Here was a well justified reform of a cleanup of a policy but implemented in a dangerous reform environment where the losers in the reform were entrenched vested interest decided to fight back to derail implementation.”
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